Report [13TH April].

Orders of the Day — Ways and Means. – in the House of Commons on 14th April 1926.

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Resolutions reported, 1. "That the sum of one million one hundred thousand pounds shall he transferred to the Exchequer from the Navy, Army, and Air Force Insurance Fund.2. "That in the event of the constitution of an account to be called the Bankruptcy and Companies' Winding-up (Fees) Account ':—(a) The Treasury shall be empowered in each financial year to pay into the Exchequer out of the moneys standing to the credit of that Account a sum equal to the amount which in the last preceding financial year fell to be defrayed out of any Votes of Parliament, other than Votes for the Board of Trade, in respect of salaries and expenses under the Bankruptcy Act, 1914, or under the Companies (Consolidation) Act, 1908, in relation to the winding-up of companies in England;

(b) There shall be paid out of the said Account into the Exchequer—

  1. (i) as soon as may be after the passing of an Act giving effect to this Resolution, an amount equal to the sums transferred to the said Account from the accounts to which there have respectively been paid the bankruptcy investments dividends, the bankruptcy fees, the companies investments dividends, and the companies winding-up fees, less a sum of one hundred thousand pounds; and
  2. (ii) thereafter, the amount standing to the credit of the said Account on the thirty-first day of March in each financial year, less an amount equal to one-third of the aggregate amount issued out of the said Account in-that year for the purpose of meeting the charges in respect of salaries and expenses under the Bankruptcy Act, 1914, or under the Companies (Consolidation) Act, 1908, in relation to the winding-up of companies in England."

Motion made, nod Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

The House divided: Ayes, 244; Noes, 147.

Division No. 134.]AYES.[6.0 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelBarnston, Major Sir HarryBrooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)Broun-Lindsay, Major H.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M.S.Bennett, A. J.Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)
Applin, Colonel R. V. K.Bethel, A.Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks.Newb'y)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Blades, Sir George RowlandBuckingham, Sir H.
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.Blundell, F. N.Bull, Rt. Hon, Sir William James
Astor, ViscountessBourne, Captain Robert CroftBullock, Captain M.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyBrass, Captain W.Burman, J. B.
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Briscoe, Richard GeorgeButler, Sir Geoffrey
Barclay-Harvey, C. M.Brittain, Sir HarryCadogan, Major Hon. Edward
Barnett, Major Sir RichardBrocklebank, C. E. R.Campbell, E. T.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootie)Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. B (Prtsmth.S.)Henn, Sir Sydney H.Rentoul, G. S.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Rice, Sir Frederick
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHohler, Sir Gerald FitzroyRopner, Major L.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir. J. A. (Birm., W.)Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardRuggles-Brise, Major E. A.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)Holt, Captain H. P.Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Chapman, Sir SHoman, C. W. J.Rye, F. G.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston SpencerHopkins, J. W. W.Salmon, Major I.
Churchman, Sir Arthur C.Howard, Captain Hon. DonaldSamuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Clarry, Reginald GeorgeHudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Sandeman, A. Stewart
Clayton, G. C.Hudson, R.S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n)Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Cobb, Sir CyrilHume, Sir G. H.Sanderson, Sir Frank
Colfox, Major Wm. PhillipsHuntingfield, LordSandon, Lord
Cope, Major WilliamHurd, Percy A.Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Couper, J. B.Hurst, Gerald B.Savery, S. S.
Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.Iliffe, Sir Edward M.Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryInskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. F. S.Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)Shepperson, E. W.
Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)Jacob, A. E.Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Curzon, Captain ViscountJames, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSkelton, A. N.
Davidson, J.(Hertf"d, Hemel Hempsf"d)Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Davidson, Major-General Sir John HKindersley, Major G. M.Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Davies, Dr. VernonKing, Captain Henry DouglasSmith-Carington, Neville W.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Kinloch-Cooke, Sir ClementSmithers, Waldron
Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Dawson, Sir PhilipLister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipSpender-Clay, Colonel H.
Dixey, A. C.Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)Sprot, Sir Alexander
Drewe, C.Loder, J. de V.Stanley, Col. Hon. G F. (Will'sden, E.)
Eden, Captain AnthonyLougher, L.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Edmondson, Major A. J.Lowe, Sir Francis WilliamStanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Elliot, Captain Walter E.Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh VereSteel, Major Samuel Strang
Ellis, R. G.Lumley, L. R.Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Elveden, ViscountMacAndrew, Major Charles GlenStreatfeild, Captain S. R.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)Strickland, Sir Gerald
Erskine, James Malcolm MonteithMcLean, Major A.Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Everard, W. LindsayMacnaghten, Hon. Sir MalcolmSykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Fairfax, Captain J. G.McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald JohnTempleton, W. P.
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Macquisten, F. A.Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Fanshawe, Commander G. D.MacRobert, Alexander M-Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Fermoy, LordMalone, Major P. B.Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Fielden, E. B.Manningham-Buller, Sir MervynThomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Fester, Sir Harry S.Margesson, Captain D.Tinne, J. A.
Foxcroft, Captain C. T.Marriott, Sir J. A. R.Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Fraser, Captain IanMason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Meller, R. J.Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Gadie, Lieut.-Colonel AnthonyMeyer, Sir FrankWaddington, R
Galbraith, J. F. W.Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-Wallace, Captain D. E.
Ganzoni, Sir JohnMitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Gee, Captain R.Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnMonsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.Wells, S. R.
Glyn, Major R. G. C.Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. S. T. C.Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Goff, Sir ParkMorrison. H. (Wilts, Salisbury)White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple
Gower, Sir RobertMorrison-Bell, Sir Arthur CliveWilliams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Grace, JohnMurchison, C. K.Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Greene, W. P. CrawfordNail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir JosephWilliams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H.(W'th's'w,E)Nelson, Sir FrankWilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Grotrian, H. BrentNeville, R. J.Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Gunston, Captain D. W.Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)Wise, Sir Fredric
Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Nuttall, EllisWithers, John James
Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Bad.)Penny, Frederick GeorgeWomersley, W. J.
Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryPercy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Harrison, G. J. C.Perring, Sir William GeorgeWood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)
Hartington, Marquess ofPhilipson, MabelWood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel AsshetonWood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Haslam, Henry C.Preston, WilliamYerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Hawke, John AnthonyRaine, W.
Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.Ramsden, E.TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)Rawson, Sir Alfred CooperMajor Hennessy and Captain Bowyer.
NOES.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Broad, F. A.Cluse, W. S.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')Bromfield, WilliamClynes, Rt. Hon. John R.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeBromley, J.Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)
Attlee, Clement RichardBrown, James (Ayr and Butt)Compton, Joseph
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Buchanan, G.Connolly, M.
Barr, J.Buxton, Rt. Hon NoelCove, W. G.
Batey, JosephCape. ThomasCowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)
Beckett, John (Gate(head)Charleton, H. C.Crawfurd, H. E.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Clowes, S.Dalton, Hugh
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Sitch, Charles H.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Kelly, W. T.Smillie, Robert
Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)Kennedy, T.Smith, Bun (Bermondsey, Rothirhithe)
Day, Colonel HarryKenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Dennison, R.Kenyon, BarnetSnell, Harry
Duckworth, JohnKirkwood, D.Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Duncan, C.Lawson, John JamesSpencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)
Dunnico, H.Lee, F.Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles
Edwards, John H. (Accrington)Lowth, T.Stamford, T. W.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)Lunn, WilliamStephen, Campbell
Fenby, T. D.Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Forrest, W.Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)Sullivan, Joseph
Gibbins, JosephMackinder, W.Sulton, J. E
Gillett, George M.MacLaren, AndrewTaylor, R. A.
Gosling, HarryMaclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)MacNeill-Weir, L.Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)
Greenall, T.March, S.Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)Maxton, JamesThurtle, E.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Montague, FrederickTinker, John Joseph
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Morris, R. H.Townend, A. E.
Groves, T.Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Grundy, T. W.Murnin, H.Varley, Frank B,
Guest, J. (York, Homsworth)Naylor, T. E.Viant, S. P.
Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)Oliver, George HaroldWalsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Palin, John HenryWarne, G. H.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Paling, W.Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Hardie, George D.Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Harris, Percy A.Ponsonby, ArthurWhiteley, W.
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonPotts, John S.Wiggins, William Martin
Hayday, ArthurPurcell, A. A.Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Henderson, T. (Glasgow)Ritson, J.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Hirst, G. H.Salter, Dr. AlfredWilson, c. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)Scurr, JohnWilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Hore-Belisha, LeslieSexton, JamesWindsor, Walter
Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)Wright, W.
Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)Shiels, Dr. DrummondYoung, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
John, William (Rhondda, West)Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir JohnTELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. A Barnes.

Second Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

Photo of Mr Sidney Webb Mr Sidney Webb , Seaham

This Resolution, in comparison with the other, is a comparatively small and venial appropriation, in so far as it is concerned with any existing surplus. This is merely the securing of £400,000 by combining two accounts, one of which has a surplus and the other a deficit.. It would not be necessary, indeed, to trouble the House with any discussion on the subject were if not that there is a further point, in addition to the appropriation of the existing surplus, and I do not think the House ought to agree—at any rate not without some more specific explanation from the Department than was given yesterday—with the proposal of the Resolution. The Resolution proposes not merely to authorise the appropriation of an existing surplus, but year after year there is to be a continuing appropriation of an annual surplus with the exception of a small sum reserved for working expenses. It is proposed that there should be a continued appropriation from these fees towards the Exchequer. The only justification for it which we heard yesterday was that it would he unfair to those professional men who act privately in the liquidation of companies to reduce the Board of Trade charge and thus compel these professional men to reduce their fees when they act in the winding-up of companies. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade himself would regard that as a serious reason, but what is serious is the proposal to continue the exaction of these fees in connection with the winding-up of companies at an unnecessarily high rate and at a rate which is calculated to yield a considerable annual surplus over and above the expenses to which the Board of Trade is put in performing this work.

I am not prepared to object to a fee being levied in order to cover the expenses of the service and no more. In any case, whether it simply covers the expenses of the service or not, it is a tax, and a most objectionable tax, but still, there is some justification for such a tax being charged as would just cover expenses. There is no justification, however, for the maintenance of an un- necessarily high scale of fees in order to add a little to tae revenue of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is an unfair tax, which falls upon the creditors of these companies, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can give any justification for the maintenance of a scale of fees, which is now seen to be unnecessarily high, merely in order to get this annual surplus. I ask him whether he can hold out any hope or make any suit of promise that the scale will be reduced. I do not mean that it should be reduced so as to extinguish absolutely the annual surplus. There must be a slight turn in favour of the Exchequer in order to avoid loss. But the fees are now altogether en too high a scale. I, therefore, ask the House to withhold its assent to this Resolution, not because it is the appropriation of an existing surplus, but because it empowers the appropriation, year after year, of a continuing surplus which is only yielded because the fees are too high. There is a further objection which I thought was put very aptly by the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. D. Herbert) yesterday. There is a special objection to having large surpluses in these funds, because it means that part of the tax revenue of the Crown is abstracted from the House of Commons control. That is a constitutional reason why these unnecessarily large annual surpluses should not be continued, virtually by exaction from creditors who have already lost their money in the companies which have to be wound up.

Photo of Mr Dennis Herbert Mr Dennis Herbert , Watford

I am sorry to trouble the House, but I fear I cannot allow what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb) has said to pass without some protest on one Point. If I understood him correctly, he said definitely that these fees were in the nature of a tax. I have not had time to look up the Statutes under which they are levied, but I believe I am right in saying that there is no justification for describing them as a tax, and the point which I endeavoured to make yesterday was that they are merely intended to be fees leviable in order to pay actual expenses.

Mr. WEBBindicated assent,

Photo of Mr Dennis Herbert Mr Dennis Herbert , Watford

I am glad the right hon. Gentleman apparently agrees with my view, though not with my language. I intended yesterday to differentiate between money which is levied for the purpose of bringing money into the National Exchequer by means of taxes, and the levying of fees for the purpose of some particular expenses. These fees ought to be equivalent to the stamp duties which are charged for post office purposes, in order to pay expenses. They should he on the same lines as the other fees which are charged in all Courts of Justice in this country, in order to pay the expenses of the Courts, other than the salaries of the Judges and the actual buildings in which the Court s sit. Therefore, though I cannot allow this description of these fees as a tax to go without some protest or explanation, apart from that, I can only repeat what I said yesterday, and what the right hon. Member for Seaham has stated this afternoon, that it is not right that fees levied in this way, for the purposes of Departmental expenses and not for purposes of revenue, should be of any amount which is appreciably in excess of what, is required for the particular purpose. I hope that, although the present Resolution, in my opinion, is thoroughly justified, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government will see to it in future that when there is a glaring case of fees being far too high, they will he reduced, and I hope that when I am not here, some other Members of this House will in future watch this matter and see that some attempt is made to reduce these fees when there is proper justification for it.

Photo of Mr Robert Taylor Mr Robert Taylor , Lincoln

Yesterday the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, in dealing with this Resolution, gave us what purported to be an explanation of its purpose, As I understand it, the £450,000 arises because, on the bankruptcy fees account, there is a deficit, whereas on the companies fees account there is a favourable balance. He told us that it was proposed to retain £100,000, which was to be used for capital expenditure. I think it would be for the convenience of the House if we could have a fuller explanation of the exact use to which that £100,000 is to be put, and I should like to press upon the President of the Board of Trade the injustice of any proposal which attempts to derive an annual revenue to assist the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his extravagant expenditure by charging unreasonably high fees, which represent virtually a tax upon the creditors of a bankrupt estate or of a company that is being wound up. I feel quite sure that the House is entitled to a fuller explanation than it has yet had before it assents to this Resolution.

Photo of Mr Ernest Evans Mr Ernest Evans , University of Wales

There are on or two matters that require elucidation before this Resolution is agreed to. I understand the balance of £450,000 which now exists is a balance which has been collected during previous years, and does not represent a balance which has been obtained in one year only. I would like to ask the President of the Board of Trade how many years it has taken to achieve this large sum of £450,000, or, to put it in another way, what is the average surplus which is shown on the Fund concerned with the winding-up of companies, and how much surplus the right hon. Gentleman expects to get next year and the following years, or in an average year, for the purpose of helping to defray the salaries and expenses of his Department in this respect. The other question I should like to ask is in regard to the sum of £100,000 which is being reserved. We heard yesterday from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade that it was wanted for working capital, and I should like to know what it is in connection with this Department which requires the retention of a capital of £100,000 at the present time.

Apart from the matters of information which one requires, there is the much more serious point which is a question of principle. If the fees which are collected in this Department are excessive, it means that the creditors are suffering, because money is being devoted to the payment of fees which should be paid in relief of the creditors. Then there is the point which has been taken already, that although these moneys are prescribed as fees, this use of them really constitutes them as a tax. I believe there was a time when bankruptcy was a crime. To-day, apparently, it is a privilege which a good many people are anxious to enjoy, and it seems to me that this is an attempt to tax the privilege, because it really does mean that. If you are paying definite fees, and then taking the fees away from the Department entitled to collect them for a certain purpose, and using them for the payment of the salary of the President of the Board of Trade in connection with bankruptcy work, that is, in effect, a novel and camouflaged way of imposing taxation upon a limited class of people, and this House has not had the opportunity, which it ought to have in all matters of taxation, of saying how taxation is to be levied and for what purposes the money collected is to be used. Therefore, I think this Resolution does embody what may be a very dangerous principle. After all, the bankruptcy department is in essence a department of the administration of justice, and I venture to that it is not right that a profit should be made out of the Department which exists for the purpose of administering justice in this matter.

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

I can relieve the mind of the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taylor) of one anxiety at once, by saying that I am to get nothing out of the bankruptcy account, nor does the Chancellor of the Exchequer or anybody else make anything out of bankruptcy funds, because, as a matter of fact, the fees, as was stated last night, are not sufficient to cover the costs of bankruptcy. Therefore, what we are really concerned with here are fees for company liquidation. The right hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb) suggested that the companies' fees were too high, but really that is not so, because the bankruptcy fees were raised, though the companies' fees have not been raised since the War, and therefore, as a matter of fact, a company in compulsory liquidation to-day under the auspices of the Official Receiver is getting its liquidation done at the pre-War rate, which is, I think, the only thing that is being done at the Pre-War rate. Furthermore, you can get your company liquidated very much cheaper by the Official Receiver than you can by an outside liquidator.

Photo of Mr Sidney Webb Mr Sidney Webb , Seaham

That is against private enterprise!

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

I make the right hon. Gentleman a present of that point in favour of Socialism. The machinery of the Official Receiver's office for liquidating companies is much more economical and cheaper than is the machinery of liquidation by an outside liquidator.

Photo of Mr Dennis Herbert Mr Dennis Herbert , Watford

The point is not really whether the people are getting companies liquidated at pre-War prices or more cheaply by the Official Receiver than by an unofficial liquidator. The sole point is whether they are paying more than the expenses of the Government Department which does it, and my submission is that payments levied in this way which are more than sufficient for the expenses are unconstitutional and improper.

Photo of Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame Mr Philip Lloyd-Greame , Hendon

I was coming to that point, but the first point raised was that these fees wore unreasonably high, and I do not think it can be said that a fee is unreasonably high which has not been raised since the War, and which is cheaper than is charged outside. The next point was whether it is improper to charge these fees, and in regard to that, I will point out that the surplus does not come out of the fees themselves. It comes out of the interest on the investments. I should not be surprised at protests being made if we were trying to charge a very high fee in company liquidation in order to make money, but that is not the position as it is to-day. The item we are proposing to take is £350,000, leaving £100,000 in the Fund, which is the accumulated interest, and that, even my right hon. Friend thinks, is reasonable. The balance which we shall take from year to year, it is impossible to estimate exactly, but basing it on past experience we estimate, I think, that it will be between £40,000 and £50,000, and the reason why a margin is left in the Fund from year to year is in order, not that there may be any capital expenditure, but that the ordinary expenditure on salaries, office expenses, and so on, properly chargeable against the companies department may be defrayed without coming to Parliament, and taking the figure which you leave in on running account at one-third of the expenses, that seems to me to be reasonable and practical. For these reasons, I submit that there is no constitutional point which arises here, and that it is reasonable that the House should give the taxpayer the benefit of the interest on these investments.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Leicester West

We have had a very interesting admission from the President of the Board of Trade to night, that in this particular Department, at any rate, the work of winding-up companies can be done very much cheaper, and, I think, better when it is performed by an official of the State than when it is done by a private liquidator. That is one illustration of what we hear from time to time from those benches when they are dealing with particular issues, although when they come to generalise, they are inclined to tell us we are entirely mistaken in our views. I do not, however, rise to deal with that point, but to direct attention to the question of the continued payment of this fund into the Exchequer. We are all agreed that as far as this sum of £450,000 has arisen, it has arisen owing to the way in which the machinery has been worked in the past, and it is not unreasonable that that should be handed over to the Exchequer. It is when we come to the sum of £45,000 that we join issue with the Government. The hon. Member for Watford (Mr. D. Herbert) thought that my right hon. Friend the Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb) had incorrectly described the whole of these fees as a tax. That is not the case. We on this side, and, I am quite sure, my right hon. Friend, fully appreciate that in so far as these fees are merely the proper charge for the work done, they are not in the nature of a tax. What he did suggest, and what, I think, is correct, is that if the fees charged are larger than is necessary, then that surplus is in the nature of a tax, and, we are told, it is going to amount every year to £45,000.

The President of the Board of Trade sets up a defence, which I do not think was offered at all yesterday in regard to this matter. He says this has nothing to do with the fees. It has entirely to do with the surplus interest accruing. I confess I have not been able to follow exactly the line he has taken on this matter. I do not fully understand why, if these sums are due to interest accrued, it is not possible to credit these sums to the companies which are being wound-up. He tells us that that is impossible, and, therefore, assuming that to be so, I am prepared to accept that view; but, if that be so, then I venture to suggest that this sum, even if it cannot be credited to the particular companies, from which the interest has arisen, at any rate it should be used for further reduction of the fees. I cannot see any justification for the State making a profit out of these companies. Whether it arises from the fees being too high, or whether it arises from other things in connection with the winding-up, it should be used for the benefit of the companies and the creditors, and I do hope the President of the Board of Trade will be able to meet the House in this matter. I am quite sure if we had a larger attendance here to-night, not only on these benches, but of hon. Members in all parts of the House, they would see the reasonableness of this position, that it is unfair to exact money from these companies at the expense of their creditors, in order to make a profit for the State. We on this side call that exaction a tax. I do not

think the hon. Member for Watford, when he understands this explanation, will disagree from our attitude on this matter, and I believe the President of the Board of Trade would find, if he took the opinion of Members on his own side of the House, that there would be a very considerable support for this point of view. I do hope, therefore, even at this late hour, the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to meet us in this matter.

Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the, said Resolution."

The House divided: Ayes, 235; Noes, 151.

Division No. 135.]AYES.[6.35 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelDavies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)Hopkins, J. W. W.
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M.S.Dawson, sir PhilipHopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Dixey, A. C.Howard, Captain Hon, Donald
Astbury, Lieut Commander F. W.Drewe, C.Hudson, Capt. A, U. M.(Hackney, N.)
Astor, ViscountessEden, Captain AnthonyHudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyEdmondson, Major A. J.Hume, Sir G. H.
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Elliot, Captain Walter E.Huntingfield, Lord
Balniel, LordEllis, R. G.Hurd, Percy A.
Barclay-Harvey C. M.Elveden, ViscountHurst, Gerald B.
Barnett, Major Sir RichardErskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)Iliffe, Sir Edward M.
Barnston, Major sir HarryErskine, James Malcolm MonteithInskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
Benn, sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)Everard, W. LindsayJackson, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. F. S.
Bethel, A.Fairfax, Captain J. G.Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth. Cen'l)
Blades, Sir George RowlandFalle. Sir Bertram G.Jacob, A. E.
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftFermoy, LordJoynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.Fielden, E. B.Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)
Brass, Captain W.Foxcroft, Captain C. T.Kindersley. Major G. M.
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeFraser, Captain IanKing, Captain Henry Douglas
Brittain, sir HarryFremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Gadie, Lieut.-Col. AnthonyLane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.Galbraith, J. F. W.Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip
Broun-Lindsay, Major H.Ganzoni, Sir JohnLocker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hex ham)Gee, Captain R.Locker-Lampson, Com. O (Handsw'th)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)Glimour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnLoder, J. de V.
Buckingham, Sir H.Glyn, Major R. G. C.Lowe, Sir Francis William
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William JamesGoff, Sir ParkLucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere
Bullock, Captain M.Gower, Sir RobertLumley, L. R.
Burman, J. B.Grace, JohnMacAndrew, Major Charles Glen
Butler, Sir GeoffreyGreene. W. P. CrawfordMacdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardGretton, Colonel JohnMcLean, Major A,
Campbell, E. T.Grotrian, H. BrentMcNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.)Macquisten, F. A.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.Mac Robert, Alexander M.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)Gunston, Captain D. W.Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)Hacking, Captain Douglas H.Malone, Major P. B.
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHall, Lieut.-Col. Sir P. (Dulwich)Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm., W.)Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)Margesson, Captain D.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)Hannon, Patrick Joseph HenryMarriott, Sir J. A. R.
Chapman, Sir S.Harland, A.Meller. R. J.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston SpencerHarrison, G. J. C.Meyer, Sir Frank
Churchman, Sir Arthur C.Hartington, Marquess ofMilne, J. S. Wardlaw
Clarry, Reginald GeorgeHarvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)
Clayton, G. C.Haslam, Henry C.Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Cobb, Sir CyrilHawke, John AnthonyMonsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.
Colfox, Major Wm. PhillipsHeadlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.
Couper, J. B.Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxl'd, Henley)Morrison, H. (Wilts. Salisbury)
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryHenderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootie)Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Henn, Sir Sydney H.Murchison, C. K.
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph
Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)Hogg, Rt Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylsbone)Neville, R. J.
Curzon, Captain viscountHohler, Sir Gerald FitzroyNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd]Holbrook, sir Arthur RichardNewton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Davidson, Major-General Sir John HHolt, Captain H. P.Nottall, Ellis
Davies, Dr. VernonHoman, C. W. J.Penny, Frederick George
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Sheffield, Sir BerkeleyVaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Perring, Sir William GeorgeShepperson, E. W.Waddington, R.
Philipson, MabelSimms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)Wallace, Captain D. E.
Preston, WilliamSkelton, A. N.Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Raine, W.Slaney, Major P. KenyonWaterhouse, Captain Charles
Rawson, Sir Alfred CooperSmith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)Wells, S. R.
Reid, Captain A. S. C. (Warrington)Smith-Carington, Neville W.Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Rentoul, G. S.Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple
Rice, Sir FrederickSpender-Clay, Colonel H.Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Richardson. Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden,E.)Wilson. Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)Stanley, Hon. o. F. G. (Westm'oland)Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Rye, F. G.Steel, Major Samuel StrangWinterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Salmon, Major I.Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.Wise, Sir Fredric
Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)Streatfelid, Captain S. R.Withers, John James
Sandeman, A. StewartStrickland, Sir GeraldWomersley, W. J.
Sanders, Sir Robert A.Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Sanderson, Sir FrankTempleton, W. P.Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)
Sandon, LordThorn, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).
Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Savery, S. S.Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sdwerby)Tinne, J. A.
Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)Tryon, Rt. Hon. George ClementTELLERS FOR THE AYES
Major Hennessy and Major Cope.
NOES.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)Ritson, J.
Alexander. A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')Hall, F. (York. W. R., Normanton)Salter, Dr. Alfred
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Scrymgeour, E.
Attlee, Clement RichardHamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)Scurr, John
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Hardie, George D.Sexton, James
Barnes, A.Harris, Percy A.Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Barr, J.Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonShiels, Dr. Drummond
Batey, JosephHayday, ArthurShort, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Beckett, John (Gateshead)Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Henderson, T. (Glasgow)Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Broad, F. A.Hirst, G. H.Sitch, Charles H.
Bromfield, WilliamHirst, W. (Bradford, South)Smillie, Robert
Bromley, J.Hore-Belisha, LeslieSmith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhiths)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Hudson, J. H. (Huddmfield)Smith, Rennle (Penistone)
Buchanan, G.Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)Snell, Harry
Buxton, Rt. Hon. NoelJohn, William (Rhondda. West)Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Cape, ThomasJohnston, Thomas (Dundee)Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)
Charleton, H. C.Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles
Clowes, S.Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Stamford, T. W.
Cluse, W. S.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Stephen, Campbell
Clynes, Right Hon. John R.Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Stewart. J. (St. Rollox)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Kelly, W. T.Sullivan, Joseph
Compton, JosephKennedy, T.Sutton, J. E.
Connolly, M.Keaworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Taylor, R. A.
Cove, W. G.Kenyon, BarnetThomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Kirkwood, D.Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro., W.)
Crawfurd, H. E.Lansbury, GeorgeThurtle, E.
Dalton, HughLawson, John JamesTinker, John Joseph
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)Lee, F.Townend, A. E.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Lowth, T.Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Day, Colonel HarryLunn, WilliamVarley, Frank B.
Dennison, R.MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)Viant, S. P.
Duckworth, JohnMacdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)Wallhead, Richard C.
Duncan, C.Mackinder, W.Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Dunnico, H.MacLaren, AndrewWatts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Edwards, John H. (Accrington)Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)Webb. Rt. Hon. Sidney
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)MacNeill-Weir, L.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Fenby, T. D.Montague, FrederickWhiteley, W.
Forrest, W.Morris. R. H.Wiggins, William Martin
George, Rt. Hon. David LloydMorrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Gibbins, JosephMurnin, H.Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Gillett, George M.Naylor, T. E.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Gosling, HarryOliver, George HaroldWilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)Palin, John HenryWilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Paling, W.Windsor, Walter
Greenall, T.Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Wright, W.
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Young. Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Ponsonby, Arthur
Grimths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Potts, John S.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Groves, T.Purcell, A. A.Mr. Warne and Mr. Charles Edwards.
Grundy, T. W.Rees, Sir Beddoe
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)